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Karma is not destiny

If the manifestation of karma is inevitable, why do parents need to discipline their children at all? If something is in the child's karma and it's going to manifest inevitably, why not let what is going to happen just happen? This is a 16-17-year-old asking, and it's really a great philosophical question. Karma can manifest in a number of ways. Example of physical injury. The karma is to break a leg because of actions in the past. How karma manifests depends on how you live. Ordinary life, karma will manifest in its grossest form, breaking the leg. If you live a refined life, karma will come in a more refined way, such as a lot of bruises. If you live a religious life, karma will come in a very refined way. Example of TV news, famous person breaking leg, and we can take on the emotion of it and identify with it intensely if that was in our karma. This way we are going through the karma in a very subtle way. Karma manifests according to how you live.

Unedited Transcript:

We have got lots of e-mails coming in and they are wonderful sources of stories and insights.

One e-mail came in recently from a young man, who asked a very good question. He said, "Well, we have a certain karma and that karma is going to manifest. So, what is the point of our parents trying to change our behavior? We are going to do what we are destined to do, so why bother with us? You know, just let us express our karma and why all this discipline and this and that. What is going on here anyway? Isn't it inevitable that I am just going to do what I am going to do? That is karma, right?"

What an interesting thought! This is a young man, about sixteen or seventeen and he is throwing out this idea, which is a very philosophical concept for someone that age.

I thought about it and came up with an answer that Gurudeva often gave when he wanted to show how karma could manifest. Karma doesn't manifest in a specific way. A karma can manifest in a number of different ways.

The example he gave was something about getting injured. So the way I am going to express it this morning is:

Suppose you have the karma to break a leg because of some actions in your past. The reaction is going to come back to you in this life in breaking a leg. Okay, so what happens? Well, how that karma manifests depends on how you live. It doesn't manifest in exactly the same way necessarily.

As Gurudeva would say, if you live an ordinary life, you know selfish life, you are not religious, you are just going along thinking about yourself, not really helping other people, just interested in yourself, then the karma will manifest in its grossest form, which means you are going to break your leg.

But, if your lifestyle is more refined, if you are not always thinking about yourself, if now and then you do things for other people, if you are kindly on occasion, you are living not just an ordinary life, but some generous unselfish qualities are manifesting, then the karma will come in a more refined way. For example, you might just bruise your leg. Almost broke it but thank goodness, just at the last minute something happened and you just got major bruises on your leg. That is better than breaking it, right? But the karma has fulfilled itself.

The third example is, if you are living a religious life, doing your sadhana everyday, really helping other people, care about other people, are generous, then the karma can come in a very refined way. For example, you are watching television news and for some reason some famous person has broken their leg. You see the story and you take on the emotion of it. It feels for a minute just like you broke your leg. You identify with it so intensely. So, you have gone through the karma of breaking your leg but in a very subtle way. You experience the emotion of it. Your leg didn't even get bruised.

So, that was the example Gurudeva gave on a number of occasions about how a karma will manifest. Therefore, to answer this young man's question, definitely the good advise of parents and of religious elders is important because it changes the way you live. It is according to how you live, that your karma will manifest.

That is a good answer for this young man. We are going to send that out today. We sent him one yesterday but this is an even better one! I remembered it this morning. I got up early this morning, got up at 3 o'clock to think about my talk. I thought, "Oh, that is a wonderful story for this young man. He will really understand."